A 22-year-old Ohio woman was sentenced this week to 15 years to life in prison after admitting she decapitated her 3-month-old daughter, PEOPLE confirms


A 22-year-old Ohio woman was sentenced this week to 15 years to life in prison after admitting she decapitated her 3-month-old daughter, PEOPLE confirms.

Deasia Watkins appeared before a Hamilton County, Ohio, judge on Thursday and pleaded guilty to one count of murder in the 2015 death of her infant daughter, Jayniah.

Watkins fractured the girl’s arm before stabbing her repeatedly and severing her head from her body in March 2015, court records show. The child had reportedly been placed with Watkins’ aunt — and prosecutors said Watkins killed her in her aunt’s home, as her aunt slept, and then put the knife in Jayniah’s hand.

“She later told police she did that so people would think the child did it – not her,” Hamilton County Assistant Prosecutor David Prem said in court.

Watkins’ plea this week comes after she had rejected an earlier deal. For more than a year, she had been mounting an insanity defense: Court documents obtained by PEOPLE said Watkins had been diagnosed with postpartum psychosis, for which she is still receiving treatment.

Henry Molski/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP
Credit: Henry Molski/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP

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Watkins addressed the court at her hearing Thursday, expressing remorse for her crime. “I love my daughter very much,” she said, according to a prosecution source.

“I loved her,” she said, “regardless of what anybody says.”

Authorities previously described Jayniah’s death in stark terms. “It was pretty horrific,” the county coroner said in 2015. “These are images that will be indelibly marked in my memory.”

Court officials say Watkins could be released from custody when she’s 35, given she’s received credit for time already served.

PEOPLE was unable to reach Watkins’ attorney for comment. Attempts to reach her relatives on Friday were unsuccessful.